Key Guidelines & Regulations - Key External Guidelines & Regulations

OMB Grant Management Circulars

Working cooperatively with the grantmaking agencies and the grantee community, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) leads the development of government wide policy to assure that grants are managed properly and that federal dollars are spent in accordance with applicable laws and regulations.

Although there are six OMB grant circulars, working at Temple University, you are only covered by three of them:

Check the OMB Website for policy information or instructions issued by OMB, and links to the following circulars.

OMB Circular A-21

This Circular establishes principles for determining costs applicable to grants, contracts, and other agreements with educational institutions. The principles deal with the subject of cost determination, and make no attempt to identify the circumstances or dictate the extent of agency and institutional participation in the financing of a particular project.

The principles are designed to provide that the federal government bears its fair share of total costs, determined in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, except where restricted or prohibited by law. Agencies are not expected to place additional restrictions on individual items of cost. Provision for profit or other increment above cost is outside the scope of this Circular.

For more details on costs, please refer to OMB Circular A-21

OMB Circular A-110

This Circular sets forth standards for obtaining consistency and uniformity among federal agencies in the administration of grants to and agreements with institutions of higher education, hospitals and other non-profit organizations.

The principles contained in this document set the standards for how universities do business with federal awarding agencies, the financial systems that the universities must put into place, and how the universities must administer the awards. Because the standards laid out in A-110 provide a benchmark for administration of federal grants it is important for the research administrator to understand it. Federal sponsoring Agencies have the ability to modify conditions found in OMB A-110; this is called agency implementation of A-110. Those regulations should be consulted first particularly in individual areas of costing and administrative policy.

For more details on costs, please refer to OMB Circular A-110

OMB Circular A-133

This Circular is issued pursuant to the Single Audit Act of 1984, and the Single Audit Act Amendments of 1996. It sets forth standards for obtaining consistency and uniformity among federal agencies for the audit of States, local governments, and non-profit organizations expending federal awards.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-133 requires an annual external audit of non-profits receiving federal funds. A sample of federal awards and their direct cost transactions are selected for testing (auditing) to determine that expenditures and procedures were appropriate, allowable, and allocable to the award. Specifically, that they were:

  • In accordance with sponsor terms and conditions
  • In accordance with OMB A-21 (Cost Principles)
  • In accordance with OMB A-110 (Administrative Requirements and University Policies)

For more information, please refer to OMB Circular A-133

NSF Policy Manual - July 2005

Grant Proposal Guide - January 2011

NIH Grants Policy Statement - October 1, 2011


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